Tonight I wanted to share this recipe for Congress Tarts, as it is something that I make quite often at home just as a day-to-day bake. Gary asked me to make them many years ago, as they are something he remembers fondly from his childhood as a treat that his Mum used to make, I personally had never heard of them, but none-the-less can confirm that they are delicious! Somewhat of a cross between a macaroon (of the English coconut-y variety, not French) and a Bakewell Tart is probably the best way to describe them. I wonder how many other people are out there like me who have never heard of these classically British tea time treats - you are missing out if you are one of them... trust me.
For the shortcrust pastry;
- 250g plain flour
- 125g butter
- pinch of salt
- 100ml ice cold water
For the filling;
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 225g ground almonds
- 1 1/2 tbsp semolina
- 3 egg whites
- 60g dessicated coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon almond essence
- zest of one lemon
- 4 tbsp raspberry jam
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and lightly grease a 12 hole muffin tin.
To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl, and mix in the salt. Cube the butter and rub into the flour to produce a fine crumb like texture. Add the water a tbsp at a time. I have quite warm hands, so use a fork for this stage to stir the water through the mixture, and add a small amount at a time until the pastry starts to ball up. I usually do not have to use the full amount of the water. Once the pastry starts to ball, use your hands to gather the mixture together and shape the dough into a ball.
Roll out the dough, and cut out circles to line each of the holes in the muffin pan. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and spread the raspberry jam between each of the tarts.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, ground almonds and semolina. Whisk the egg whites until white and fluffy but still runny. Pour into the almond mixture. Add the coconut, lemon zest and almond essence and mix well.
Take a spoonful of the mixture at a time,, shape it into a ball, and press into a pastry tart.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown on top, and the pastry is cooked underneath. Remove from the oven, and release the tarts from the tin and place on a cooling rack.
Enjoy these little treats with a hot cup of tea. The almond-y coconut macaroon filling will be crisp on top, but light and chewy in the middle, sitting on top of the sweet layer of raspberry jam, and all encased in a golden shortcrust pastry. A perfect snack for elevenses... or afternoon tea... or when you get in from school/work... or a midnight snack... heck, they'll do just about anytime!